Passengers Rescued From Ship Stranded in Antarctica

Passengers on MV Akademik Shokalskiy evacuated by helicopter to Australian icebreaker

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Andrew Peacock / Reuters

The MV Akademik Shokalskiy is pictured stranded in ice in Antarctica, December 29, 2013.

Updated on Jan. 2 at 7:15 a.m EST.

Dozens of passengers were finally rescued Thursday from a Russia ship that’s been stranded in the ice off Antarctica, ending an ordeal that started on Christmas Eve.

After three different rescue attempts by ship failed, 52 passengers were airlifted off the MV Akademik Shokalskiy by helicopter, CNN reports. They were being transported to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.

Aurora Australis and the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long previously failed to reach the Russian-flagged vessel, so rescuers are now using a helicopter to take off from Xue Long and pick up the passengers by air.

Sea ice conditions on Thursday made it appear that the rescue attempt would have to be delayed. However, on Thursday evening (Australian Eastern Daylight Time) the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said that a patch of ice near the Aurora Australis had been picked out as a landing spot for the helicopter.

Soon after, it reported that the first of the passengers had been delivered to the Australian ship.

It will still take another few weeks before the 52 researchers and journalists reach port in Hobart, Australia, though. The 22 Russian crew members will remain aboard.